All UK thatch owners have to reconcile themselves with the fact that every 10 -15 years they will need to spend money on a new ridge.
For those that have had a complete new thatch previously and have witnessed the steady deterioration of their roof, this is a day they knew would come and is a confirmation that irrespective of the age of the body of the roof this periodic ridge maintenance work is necessary.
It is also the reason why many shy away from owing a thatch property and our 21st century desire to be maintenance free is also the reason why many householders have replaced wooden windows with plastic ones, or had their lawns dug up and re-laid with artificial grass. Half-timbered black and white buildings no longer need to be painted as these too can be done with plastic as can fences and even glass reinforced plastic (GRP) chimneys are available. Even in thatching, plastic reeds (similar to long drinking straws) are available which are laid just like real thatch and plastic thatch ‘tiles’ have been around for over 20 years.
This desire to have a maintenance free property flies in the face of everything that a thatched roof stands for. Fortunately for Thatchers there are still enough people willing to accept this and I like to think of such thatch owners as essential custodians of our nations heritage.
This does not mean to say they do not sometimes question if there is a different way to maintain their roofs. A Thatch Owner who had his house built around 10 years ago (which we thatched) had a conversation with me recently about his upcoming re-ridge. He wanted to know what other products were available to lengthen the life of the ridge. I explained that he could have clay tiles as they do in Holland but this was something he felt would not be in keeping even though his property was not listed and in an area of Northern Ireland where there are hardly any other thatched properties.
It always surprises me how many thatch owners will not consider ridge tiles and so we like most Thatchers will be kept busy with the vast majority of their order book being taken up with re-ridging work. To what extent this negative aspect of a thatched roof is holding back new build work is hard to gauge, but we will always offer a thatch owner a range of re-ridging options including the longer lasting ridge tiles.